Thursday, April 06, 2017

Coal is dead

Two good-news stories about coal today. Firstly, most of the EU has committed to no more new coal plants:

Europe’s energy utilities have rung a death knell for coal, with a historic pledge that no new coal-fired plants will be built in the EU after 2020.


A press release from Eurelectric, which represents 3,500 utilities with a combined value of over €200bn, reaffirmed a pledge to deliver on the Paris climate agreement, and vowed a moratorium on new investments in coal plants after 2020.

“26 of 28 member states have stated that they will not invest in new coal plants after 2020” said Kristian Ruby, Eurelectric’s secretary-general. “History will judge this message we are bringing here today. It is a clear message that speaks for itself, and should be seen in close relation to the Paris agreement and our commitment to provide 100% carbon-neutral electricity by 2050.”

Greece and Poland are the only holdouts. But I expect they'll eventually come round. So we're looking at a coal-free Europe in the long-term.

Secondly, the USA is going coal-free, despite the Trump regime's best efforts to destroy the planet:
When President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week to sweep away Obama-era climate change regulations, he said it would end America's “war on coal”, usher in a new era of energy production and put miners back to work.

But the biggest consumers of US coal - power generating companies - remain unconvinced.

Reuters surveyed 32 utilities with operations in the 26 states that sued former President Barack Obama's administration to block its Clean Power Plan, the main target of Trump's executive order. The bulk of them have no plans to alter their multi-billion dollar, years-long shift away from coal, suggesting demand for the fuel will keep falling despite Trump's efforts.

While some companies simply don't believe Trump's policies will last, the key reason is that coal has simply become uneconomic compared to gas and renewables. And when that happens, no amount of presidential posturing can save it.

Of course, there's still a long lag on this - coal plants have a long lifetime, and letting them be built for the next 3 years means they could still be running as late as 2050 or 2060. But it does mean that it is going to be phased out, and that old plants will be replaced with cleaner alternatives. And that's a vital way of reducing emissions and stopping us all from melting.